2018 was an immense year for social media marketing and the new found possibilities that have come along with it. It's fairly impossible to do anything in marketing today without leveraging social media, as it's evolved into the main platform to reach customers. So what trends can marketers expect to see emerge and grow in 2019?
2018 has been a huge year for influencer marketing, to the point where for some, it's become a legitimate source of income. The reality is that traditional marketing centered on TV and radio just isn't as effective as it used to be. So brands are focusing their efforts on the places where their audiences are spending their time -- online, more specifically, social media. Influencers are individuals who have an impact over potential customers based on their large followings on the web and social media. Influencer Marketing is a combination of both old and new marketing tools, taking the idea of the celebrity endorsement and placing it into a modern day content-driven marketing campaign. Unlike celebrities, influencers can be found anywhere, which makes them different from a well-known name plastered beside a brand. They are seen as a more personable voice.
Just last week, Kris Jenner, the famous "momager" of the Keeping Up With The Kardashians crew, braced fans of the reality show for a "brave and vulnerable" announcement from her model daughter Kendall Jenner. What bold admission were we getting ready to hear!? But when the announcement dropped, social media lit up with anger towards her. Kendall, 23, was coming out with acne--and a massive endorsement deal with zit-remedy formula Proactiv.
"Kendall Jenner gets 3000 dollar facials wearing head to toe Balenciaga in between shoots for Vogue," tweeted one angry fan. "I promise you she's not using proactiv." This is the perfect example of placing a celebrity as the face of a brand without thinking of the audience who uses it. Highest paid model in the world using a relatively "cheap" skincare brand?… I don't think so.
With influencers and micro-influencers (typically 10,000 followers or less), brands will need to consider when it's most beneficial to focus on reach by numbers and when to focus on a niche audience moving forward. As it turns out, bigger isn't always better when it comes to influencers. Micro-influencers are seen as more "every day" people and may happen to fit better with a brands audience. No longer focusing on reach, brands will focus on the quality of engagement, identity and voice of the influencer, audience relevance and how the audience is interacting with the content.
We are pretty short on time and attention these days, but we love to be entertained. This is why video marketing is growing across all platforms, and currently represents more than three quarters of all internet traffic. Studies expect it to rise to a whopping 85% by 2019. Videos feel more authentic and are fun to watch, which is why brands will continue to experiment with video-marketing trends as they can be more effective in driving sales than text-based content.
This brings us to the rise of user generated content such as Instagram's IGTV, encouraging people to create video content longer than the standard 1-minute instagram video and exclusively for mobile. We already know that people are more likely to use their mobile devices in a vertical position, therefore making it suitable for marketers and content producers that are addressing a mobile only audience. "If you're still not on IGTV, it's time to hop on the train," said Plannable 's Vlad Callus "...IGTV will become the new YouTube in three to five years, and if you're joining now, you will catch the big wave."
There are currently quite a number of people using IGTV to promote their brands. The most common accounts post vlogs, makeup tutorials, product reviews, interview segments, funny moments and even DIY guides. Netflix took advantage of the feature to announce the introduction of a new episode by using the ' Riverdale ' star, Cole Sprouse in their video. The video is one hour long, completely utilizing the time allocated for one video on IGTV. In the hilariously weird video, Cole points, winks and smolders while eating a burger. The Netflix video on IGTV has received more than 500,000 views and a lot of positive comments. Strange, but true. There's also the slowly rising trend of live streaming, taking media channels to another level with ultimate authenticity.
The news feed has become the new storefront for brands, with one in four people having purchased a product or service via social media. Social shopping, or social commerce, is the coming together of social media channels - most significantly Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest - with online shopping. Meeker's 2018 trends report showed that 55 percent of survey respondents have purchased products online after a social media discovery, and the gap between social media and commerce is being bridged by technologies such as in-stream payment tools and video plugins. Specific features include 'buy now' buttons that allow people to navigate directly from a social media platform, such as instagram, to a sales channel, and the ability for brands to create posts or 'stories' that include tags and links to specific products.
For those of you who frequently shop online, you might have seen your favorite brands using an #AsSeenOnMe feature, where their site and their Instagram account are seamlessly connected through user engagement. Brands like ASOS encourage users to share photos of themselves wearing clothes from ASOS on social media sites like Instagram and Facebook using the hashtag of #asseenonme. The store then adds transactional links to the items featured and displays them alongside the photos on their channel. Some brands have even combined social commerce with augmented reality (technology used to superimpose digital images and graphics into the existing environment). Furniture companies, such as Magnolia Market, use AR to help customers visualize how furniture would look in their unique space before they buy.
What does this mean for marketers overall in 2019? Well, brands will have to change consumer behavior by convincing them to click 'buy' instead of just 'like', and develop creative ways to get a purchase. Achieving such a change will require brands to provide content that shows consumers how a product fits into their life, not just the product itself.
Chatbots and virtual assistants are the future of marketing and customer support. Unlike live chats, chatbots work to simulate realistic conversations with website visitors in an effort to help them get what they need quicker and more accurately. We can expect chatbots to continue growing in 2019—and they'll likely be seen as "normal" in the eyes of consumers. In other words: the novelty will fade but we will see them become more widespread and usable.
If you own a Google home, try the eBay chatbot! It's one of the most advanced e-commerce chatbots out there and is also the most used! It's built for the Google Assistant, which means that you can use it with your Google Home or on your phone. You can ask it to buy anything in the world, at a very low price. It's impressive, especially if you consider the immense scale of Ebay.
According to Juniper Research, chatbots are expected to help cut business costs by $8 billion dollars by the year 2022! Chatbots will soon be the first place we go to order a pizza, choose a mobile plan, or even book a flight. It enables users to do all of this without the hassle of downloading a native app.
In a world filled with constant disruption and reinvention, no one can be exactly sure of what will happen with social media in 2019. However, if there's a key takeaway message, it's that personalized user experiences matter and it's safe to bet on our inherent need for connection, each and every time.
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